SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #174 : KEMPSTON, PROTEK AND FULLER

In 2000, Chemikal Underground came up with the idea of having an imprint named Fukd ID for limited edition releases (1,000 maximum) by a variety of acts, not all of who were on the label.

There ended up being eight releases via the imprint, one of which (Fukd ID #3) was the first ever release by Interpol and is fairly valuable to collectors. The last of them (Fukd ID #8), was accompanied by this promotional blurb:-

Sounding like a team of Harvard lawyers, Kempston, Protek & Fuller are actually John Clark (ex-bis) and Ally Christie (erstwhile guitar tech for the Delgados, Mogwai, The Pixies and all manner of assorted indie rock royalty). Their brand of eccentric electronica fitted the bill for Fukd ID perfectly and this remains another little known diamond in the crown of this offbeat series….

One of the tracks was later included on Dramatis Personae, an amazing retrospective released by the label in 2006 featuring 17 audio tracks and 28 videos from the label’s story so far, with the DVD including a number of audio commentaries.

mp3 : Kempston, Protek & Fuller – Localised Flooding

In doing a bit of research for this post, I learned that Kempston, Protek & Fuller are all names of computer game joysticks from the eighties……that alone should give you an idea of what to expect from today’s post.

JC

THE 1997 NME SINGLE OF THE YEAR (Recorded in 1965!)

I’m a long way removed from being a fan of The Verve or Richard Ashcroft, but I am willing to admit the song that brought them/him to the attention of the wider public is absolute class:-

mp3 : The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony (radio edit)

Only thing is….. that according to the info within the CD single sitting on my shelf, it was actually performed by The Andrew Oldham Orchestra and written solely by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

The story is quite infamous now. I’ll simply lift from wiki:-

The opening strings are sampled from the 1965 Andrew Oldham Orchestra recording of the Rolling Stones song “The Last Time”, arranged and written by David Whitaker. The Verve negotiated rights to use a six-note sample from the recording from the recording’s copyright holder Decca Records; however, they did not obtain permission from former Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein, who owned the copyrights to the band’s pre-1970 songs, including “The Last Time”. Although “Bitter Sweet Symphony” had already been released, Klein refused to grant a license for the sample. This led to a lawsuit with ABKCO Records, Klein’s holding company, which was settled out of court. The Verve relinquished all royalties to Klein, and the songwriting credits were changed to Jagger/Richards, with Ashcroft receiving $1,000 for completely relinquishing rights.

Verve bassist Simon Jones said, “We were told it was going to be a 50/50 split, and then they saw how well the record was doing. They rung up and said we want 100 percent or take it out of the shops, you don’t have much choice.” Ashcroft sarcastically said, “This is the best song Jagger and Richards have written in 20 years”, noting it was their biggest UK hit since “Brown Sugar”.

In a 1999 interview with Q, asked whether he believed the result was fair, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards said: “I’m out of whack here, this is serious lawyer shit. If the Verve can write a better song, they can keep the money.”

In 1999, Andrew Oldham sued for royalties after failing to receive the mechanical royalties he claimed he was owed. After receiving his royalties, Oldham joked that he bought “a pretty presentable watch strap” compared to the watch Jagger and Richards would get with the money. In an interview with Uncut, he said: “As for Richard Ashcroft, well, I don’t know how an artist can be severely damaged by that experience. Songwriters have learned to call songs their children, and he thinks he wrote something. He didn’t. I hope he’s got over it. It takes a while.”

In May 2019, Ashcroft received the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors. Ashcroft announced that the dispute was over following negotiations with Klein’s son, Jody, and the Rolling Stones’ manager Joyce Smith.  He said: “As of last month, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards signed over all their publishing for Bittersweet Symphony, which was a truly kind and magnanimous thing for them to do. I never had a personal beef with the Stones. They’ve always been the greatest rock and roll band in the world. It’s been a fantastic development. It’s life-affirming in a way.

So how much plagarism was involved?

mp3 : Andrew Oldham Orchestra – The Last Time

OK, I’m no musician and I can’t quite understand how it went the way it did.  Yup, there was a sample.  Yup, there was an error in not getting Klein on board. Yup, the song ended up being more successful than was likely imagined.  But there is no way that it could ever be seen as solely a Jagger/Richard composition. I’m also baffled as to why none of the five members of The Verve, named on the front of the sleeve and who obviously played on the track, aren’t entitled to any credit.

Things were just as ridiculous when The Verve included a remix version of the song as a track on the CD2 single of The Drugs Don’t Work:-

mp3 : The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony (James Lavelle Remix)

The same credits in terms of composing and performing were detailed, with the following additions:-

Vocals by Richard Ashcroft
Lyrics by Richard Ashcroft
Additional strings conducted and arranged by Wil Malone
Remixed by James Lavelle for U.N.C.L.E Productions

How magnanimous of them…..

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #223 : BAUHAUS

A DEBUT GUEST POSTING by MIDDLE AGED MAN

To me Bauhaus were the greatest live band of the early eighties, no other band managed to combine the aggression of punk with theatre. Peter Murphy was born to perform, never still for a second still, constantly twisting and pirouetting with a flexibility and physical shape that was awesome and even as a relatively fit eighteen year old I knew was beyond me. On the right hand side of the stage (from the audience view) was Daniel Ash, who yielded his guitar like a razor blade, sharp slashes, no gentleness and who would completely ignore the singer until he ventured into the guitarist’s territory and would then be physically pushed back to the centre. And on the left was the cool aloft David J who was economical to say the least, no wasted movement or facial expression.

The following ICA is based upon standout live memories rather than their recorded versions (with the obvious exception)

Side 1

1: Boys (B side of the Bela single)

The first time I saw Bauhaus was in Derby at a seedy closed down cinema – the Ajanta Cinema, I was a student at Nottingham Trent Polytechnic, a member of the Alternative music society, through which was arranged the tickets and coach. A sharp guitar rhythm, no solos allowed, intermittent drums and bass and Peter Murphy’s vocals carry the tune. With lines like ‘ features so fine, rouge and eyeline’ it seems to predict the new romantic movement, but musically has far too much aggression.

2. Dark Entries (Single)

A live masterpiece, feedback intro of rising tension, raising the hairs on the back of neck before bursting into the fastest Bauhaus song, even as a 50 year old at a re-union gig I had to rush forward and throw myself into the melee

3. Terror Couple Kill Colonel (Single)

The good old days when bands would release singles and NOT put them on albums, a slightly slower song compared to earlier releases and what a title , how could you not listen and it all takes place ‘in his West German home ‘

4. Third Uncle (B-side)

Bauhaus went through a period of releasing covers as singles, probably in an attempt to get in the top 20 – Telegram Sam, Ziggy Stardust and this Brian Eno cover, The first 2 were songs I already knew and were delivered with more threat than the originals, but Third Uncle was new to me as I had never heard any Brian Eno solo stuff and to be honest could have been a Bauhaus original for all I cared. This always takes me take to a Rock City show this was the opening number, but Peter Murphy was at the side of stage playing keyboards, which was like playing Duncan Ferguson at right back for the first ten minutes, taking away the focal point of the team/band.

5. Hollow Hills (Album track)

All live shows/performances need a pause, a breather, a chance for both the band and the audience to recover from the adrenaline rush of the first few songs, for Bauhaus Hollow Hills worked perfectly a shimmering introduction, almost spoken vocals the song carried by the repetitive bass notes.

Side 2

6. Burning From the Inside (Album track)

During their 2006 re-union tour I saw Bauhaus in Birmingham to begin the show. Daniel Ash stands atop the speaker stack and starts playing this tune, it isn’t the fastest of intros/riffs, but the sheer confidence/arrogance of the man was spell binding, wearing what looked like a fur edged tank top with his hair in a top knot we all stood still in disbelief.

7. Kick In The Eye (Single)

‘Searching for Satori’, released twice as a single it was the lead off track from the second album and heralds a sequence of great singles from mixed albums . Fairly obviously the live performances would feature Mr Murphy showing off his high kicks.

8. Antonin Artaud (Album Track)

Pretentious or educational? From The Sky’s Gone Out album, having heard the song I had to go to the library ( pre internet days) to find out who Antonin was, has the final repeated line ‘Those Indians wank on his bones’,

9. Dancing (Album Track)

Back to the second album ‘Mask’ (worse album cover ever contender) and another great live track that brought out the best of Peter Murphy’s athleticism, I have always assumed it is about himself as it described his stage performance perfectly.

10. Crowds (B side)

Another song that seems to be about themselves ( and also the audience this time) the only Bauhaus track that I can remember that features a piano rather than guitar.

11. In The Flat Field (Album track)

A great live track with thunderous drums which describes the frustration/boredom of a teenager living in the sticks wanting excitement. The line ‘in the flat field I do get bored replace with Piccadilly whore’ sums up why anyone moves to a big city.

12 Bela Lugosi’s Dead (Single)

I just had to include it, a career defining track which sounds nothing like anything else they recorded.

Thanks

Middle Aged Man

 

THE CLASS OF 79

An hour-long themed mixtape….and if I had a magic time-machine, it’s what I’d have played if I could have DJ’d at Mrs Villain’s 21st Birthday party, which would have been 40 years ago today……and a full decade before we first met!

mp3 : Various – The Class of ’79 (volume 1)

Tracklist

The Clash – I Fought The Law
Squeeze – Up The Junction
Blondie – Heart of Glass
The Specials – Gangsters
Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough
Joy Division – Transmission
The Jam – Strange Town
Wire – On Returning
The Pretenders – Brass In Pocket
David Bowie – Boys Keep Swinging
Gary Numan – Cars
OMD – Electricity
Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him?
The B52’s – Rock Lobster
Gang Of Four – Damaged Goods
Earth, Wind & Fire – Boogie Wonderland
XTC – Making Plans For Nigel
The Undertones – Get Over You

I’ve a feeling that further volumes will follow in due course, given that I’ve failed to include so many great songs from that particular year.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #222 : NIRVANA

The idea of pulling together a Nirvana ICA was inspired by me catching up a few weeks ago with the documentary Montage of Heck, released back in 2015.

It tells the story of Kurt Cobain, from his childhood to his death at the age of 27. I found it to be a tough watch in many places, being at times a sad and moving portrait about an individual who was, to say the very least, a complex and troubled character. It was incredibly informative in many different ways, including opening my eyes to just how much there is out there in terms of material by Nirvana given that so many bootlegs, live, home and radio studio recordings have been issued in addition to the three studio albums. There’s a page on wiki that lists all known Nirvana recordings and there’s well over 100 different songs out there in some shape or other.

The ICA is drawn purely from the CDs that I have in the collection, consisting of the studio albums, a handful of singles and the MTV Unplugged release and as such may not be completely representative of the band’s output. But the question is, will it be entertaining enough for you?

SIDE A

1. Where Did You Sleep Last Night? (from MTV Unplugged, 1994)

If anyone doubts that Kurt Cobain was an incredibly talented performer, then I would ask them to listen to this, the closing track of the MTV Unplugged performance, recorded on 16 November 1993 and aired the following month, with the CD eventually released in November 1994 as the first posthumous release after the singer’s suicide.

It’s a cover of a traditional song known as ‘In The Pines’ thought to date from the 1870s with Nirvana basing their take on the version recorded by bluesman Lead Belly in the mid-1940s. The MTV performance takes up the final few minutes of Montage of Heck on the back of a very telling contribution from Courtney Love which reveals that her late husband was an incredibly insecure man, which was really no surprise given the story that had been told over the previous two hours. There can be few better instances of a singer reaching deep inside himself to give absolutely everything to the moment, revealing what was a largely unknown tender side to someone whose fame and fortune had been made on noise and raw energy.

2. Territorial Pissings (from Nevermind, 1991)

There will be a number of songs lifted from the album which provided the commercial breakthrough. Almost 30 years on and I can still listen to it from start to end without reaching for the FF button. It’s aged very well, which is unusual for anything which sold 30 million copies world-wide in its day. The shortest track on the album is loud and energetic, driven along by the pounding drums of Dave Grohl and the dynamic bass of Kris Novoselic, without whom the band’s sound wouldn’t have been so perfectly formed. There’s a co-credit given to American songwriter Chet Powers as the opening spoken lines are lifted from his song ‘Let’s Get Together’. Interesting that Powers was another musician whose reliance on drugs caused him a great many problems and grief, including a jail sentence that he served in the infamous Fulsom Prison.

3. About A Girl (from Bleach, 1989)

Nirvana will always be thought of as a grunge band, but this track from the debut LP shows that their songwriter was more than capable of writing a fabulous pop song that is reminiscent in places of R.E.M. and (whisper it given what I said a few weeks back) The Beatles. The only Kurt Cobain song you are likely to hear aired at an indie-disco…..

4. Come As You Are (from Nevermind, 1991)

The most obviously radio-friendly (musically speaking) of the tracks from Nevermind, but with a chorus that became awkward after the suicide. It’s not the band’s most representative of songs and the fact it was such a fan favourite had a lot to do with the determination to make the next again album as unlistenable and uncommercial as the record label would allow them to get away with.

5. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter (from In Utero, 1993)

Just as Ian Curtis’s bandmates failed to spot his increasing problems as illustrated within the lyrics he had penned for the songs on the album Closer, so too did those closest to Kurt Cobain fail to realise that much of what he was doing for In Utero, musically and lyrically, were cries for help. This ironically-titled track comes with a real sense of despair in the repeated use of the line ‘What Is Wrong With Me?’ within its chorus, and in retrospect is really the singer wanting someone, anyone to consider just why it is that he had turned into a junkie increasingly incapable of taking care of himself or thinking rationally.

SIDE B

1. Drain You (from Nevermind, 1991)

The fact that this track also appears on the b-side to the single release of Smells Like Teen Spirit demonstrates how little faith there was in Nirvana making any crossover from grunge obscurity into the mainstream.

Drain You has ‘smash hit’ written all over it, from its cheery sounding opening to a tune that wasn’t a million miles removed from those released a few years earlier by Pixies. The demand for Nirvana product was such that four singles were eventually lifted from Nevermind and while there is a huge amount of to admire about In Bloom and Lithium, neither sound as wonderful coming out of your FM radio as this.

2. Pennyroyal Tea (from MTV Unplugged, 1994)

It may well be one of the most accessible songs on In Utero but its finest rendition comes courtesy of the Unplugged show. It’s the only song in which Kurt Cobain performs alone during the show, which itself was a sort of happy accident as various arrangements tried out during rehearsals hadn’t been to everyone’s satisfaction. Answering questions during an interview carried out to promote the release of In Utero, the singer revealed that while the song title refers to what many had recommended as a way to try and cure his stomach ailments, he saw this as a death-bed song by a depressant who only made things worse for himself by reading deep and difficult books or listening to the most cheerless lyrics put to music by Leonard Cohen (something in itself which I find is a bit of an unusually lazy-cliché from Cobain)

3. All Apologies (from In Utero, 1993)

For anyone who may have missed out on About A Girl and the fact that there was more to Nirvana than screaming vocals.

I’ve long been a sucker for the use of cellos on rock and pop records and the contribution from Kara Schaley borders on perfection. It’s a song that took on an added poignancy after the suicide, sounding at times like the note that would be left behind.

4. Breed (from Nevermind, 1991)

From one extreme to another – one of the most alive-sounding tracks that Nirvana ever issued. Let’s raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwkk.

5. Smells Like Teen Spirit (from Nevermind, 1991)

The trick to a successful ICA is to get the ‘correct’ running order of the tracks. I’ve long said that an ICA doesn’t need to feature the best 10 songs by a singer or band but instead should seek to make for a seamless listen. There’s no doubt that Teen Spirit overshadows everything else the band ever did, becoming something of an albatross around their collective neck leading to Kurt Cobian re-using its distinctive introductory notes again on a later song that he would call Rape Me. But it became said albatross for the simple reason that it is an outstanding song that appealed to so many different types of music fans back in the day.

It is the first answer that 99.999% of folk will give when asked to name a song by Nirvana. It is likely the only song by them that many folk know. It was the obvious candidate to open the ICA but when I chose to go with the cover version, I couldn’t imagine it being anything else but the closer. It’s a killer tune and the repeated guttural and abrasive use of ‘ a denial’ over the last few seconds provides as great an ending to any song ever written and maintains the majestic epic nature of what had come before in the earlier five or so minutes. You don’t agree?? Oh well, whatever, never mind.

JC

THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT……

…..WITH ARTWORK!!!!!!!!!

JC writes…….

Rol from My Top Ten has long been one of my favourite bloggers. He has, for years, made great use of his encyclopedic knowledge of popular music, and his incredible powers of recall, to deliver daily posts that are always packed with humour, honesty and originality, in a way that is quite unique in the blogging world. He’s also been a huge friend to this and the old blog, making comments and observations on a frequent basis, along with the occasional guest contribution.

Rol is a very talented writer and a few years ago he was the author of five issues of PJANG, a comic book (with the emphasis on book) that was not only named after a Nick Cave song but had subject matters that could be as dark and as funny as the story lines on any Bad Seeds or Grinderman album. PJANG was a great read and I was sad when Rol and his artist friends and colleagues had to call it a day to concentrate on other projects, such as providing for their families!!

But where PJANG once dared to tread, there’s now the prospect of the Department of the Peculiar goes POP! offering much enjoyment and entertainment. Here’s Rol to explain:-

Hi JC

I’m on the scrounge for a plug for my new comic, which we’re running a Kickstarter campaign for. Now normally, I wouldn’t bother my music blogging pals with this sort of thing as I know it wouldn’t interest them. However, you have been supportive of my writing in the past and this particular comic is based around the music industry – notably the attempts of a useless band called Areshole to hit the big time.

Link to the Kickstarter campaign where there’s loads more info is here…

http://kck.st/2GN35jk

I genuinely think that (some of) your readers might find this book funny and enjoyable / relevant to their interests, otherwise I wouldn’t approach you like this. If nothing else, it’s a free post, and I know how valuable they can be to daily bloggers!

If you’re not able to help or don’t think it’s appropriate for TVV, no worries – I won’t think any the worse of you.

Take care,

Rol.

If you click on the above link to the Kickstart campaign you will see that the initial target has been reached  – I’m proud and happy to have played my part and delighted that the project will see light of day.  But the team have decided to aim for a couple more goals, one of which will see the inclusion of a further story penned by Rol, so why not have a look and give some consideration to helping out.

Contributions start from as little as £2 for which you’ll get digital copies of the new comic book while £4 will see you get your hands on a physical copy.  If you’re feeling generous, there’s the opportunity to pledge more and obtain rewards….I’ve decided to get another one ticked off the bucket list and thus issue 2 of the comic book will see my ugly face pop up somewhere in the background!

Oh, and another great thing is that all contributors also receive regular updates on how things are going.

Finally, and if you want to see just what Rol was hinting at when he said “I genuinely think that (some of) your readers might find this book funny and enjoyable / relevant to their interests,”, click on the link and scroll down to enjoy a sneak peek at the opening three pages, which I reckon will make many TVV readers smile.

mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – People Ain’t No Good
mp3 : Lloyd Cole – People Ain’t No Good
mp3 : U2 – Discotheque

Thanks folks. Much appreciated.

JC

 

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF (EARLY) SIMPLE MINDS (Parts 14 & 15)

The first nine months of 1984 were a complete whirlwind for Simple Minds.

It began in January with the release of their new single, which went Top 20:-

mp3 : Simple Minds – Speed Your Love To Me

Again, there was a harder, rockier edge to the song than previous material, with a backing vocal courtesy of Kirsty MacColl, particularly on the 12″ version which came in at more than seven minutes upon which producer Steve Lillywhite used his entire box of techniques and studio sounds.

The b-side was an instrumental:-

mp3 : Simple Minds – Bass Line

It would later transpire that the instrumental had later been fully devoped, with lyrics, and would appear, as White Hot Day, on the new album Sparkle In The Rain which, upon release in February 1984 entered the UK charts at #1, eventually spending more than a year in the Top 75.

Despite the sales and success of the new album, many fans of old, attracted to the band through the post-punk synth-led music, were bitterly disappointed by the new material. I loved the fact the local boys were now doing good finacially and were now plastered all over the media, but the songs left me cold. The four-night residency in February/March at the Barrowlands could have sold out three or four times over, but the band were on a tour that had already visited Australia, New Zealand and Ireland and was due to take in another three weeks of dates across the UK (although the end dates were cancelled from Jim Kerr being flu-ridden and exhausted)

Having said all that, the choice of next single was my favourite song on the album as, aside from the ridiculous 1-2-3-4 count-in (and the 80s pounding drums), it goes back a bit to the older songs with keyboards to the fore and a far from straight-forward lyric.

mp3 : Simple Minds – Up On The Catwalk

It stalled at #27, perhaps down to the fact that most folk would have the song through its inclusion on the album, but then again, it’s not the most straightforward of numbers nor as anthemic as more recent singles.

The b-side was another instrumental which was a fine reminder of the more experimental side of the band:-

mp3 : Simple Minds – A Brass Band In Africa

In April, an extensive European tour was undertaken, before returning to the UK to fulfill the re-arranged gigs postponed earlier – this culminated in a eight-night residency at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, proof if any were needed of the band’s popularity with the public.

The band would admit later to finding it a tedious experience and it was then that thoughts turned to making the transition to arenas and stadiums.

May and June saw them zigzag their way across North America, playing venues way bigger than previous visits, and after a brief interlude to play some European festivals, they went back to the States for an arena tour in August and September as support to The Pretenders – oh and somewhere along the line, Jim Kerr married Chrissie Hynde.

They were clearly a hard-working band, putting on tight and crowd-friendly shows night after night.  All that was needed now, was some sort of real crossover hit single, one that would cement their place in 80s folklore on both sides of the Atlantic….but in all likelihood, alienate the fanse who were becoming disinchanted with the direction the music was taking.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #173 : KARINE POLWART

One of my mates, Micky, has long been a huge fan of Karine Polwart, trying hard over the years to convince me to give her a fair hearing.  I actually have given it a go, but I’ve found her material just too rootsy and folky for my liking….although I may give her newest material a listen over the coming weeks (I’ll come back to that in due course).

From wiki (edited):-

Karine Polwart (born 23 December 1970) grew up in the small Stirlingshire town of Banknock and had an interest in music from an early age. She has described her whole family as being interested in music and one of her brothers, Steven, is also a professional musician who plays guitar in the Karine Polwart band, whilst her sister Kerry is developing her own musical career with the group The Poems.

Despite an active musical career from a young age, including forming her own band KP and the Minichips at age 10, Polwart was discouraged from studying music at school and ended up studying politics and philosophy at the University of Dundee. After graduating with a First Class Degree in Philosophy Polwart moved to Glasgow to study for a Masters in Philosophical Inquiry.

Her first job after her studies was as a philosophy tutor in a primary school, a job she describes as giving her a “massive buzz.” After this she spent six years working for the Scottish Women’s Aid movement on issues such as domestic and child abuse and young people’s rights and these experiences have influenced her songwriting.

Polwart initially gained prominence as lead singer of the group Malinky. With the release of their debut album Last Leaves in January 2000, Polwart left her job to concentrate on her musical career. After successful periods with Malinky, macAlias and Battlefield Band, and contributions to three volumes (Volumes 7, 8 and 9) of Linn Records’ The Complete Songs of Robert Burns project, she decided to embark on a solo career. In 2003 she released her first solo album, Faultlines which went on to win the Best Album award at the 2005 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

In April 2006, Polwart released her second solo album Scribbled in Chalk. This album was heralded with much critical acclaim receiving impressive reviews from amongst others, The Scotsman, The Sunday Times, and The Independent on Sunday. A UK wide tour followed as well as appearances on BBC 2’s Culture Show, Simon Mayo’s Album show on Radio 2, Mike Harding’s folk show on Radio 2, BBC Radio Scotland on the Janice Forsyth show and the Janice Long Late show on Radio 2.

Like Faultlines, Scribbled in Chalk often looks at the darker side of life with tales of sex trafficking (“Maybe there’s a Road”), the holocaust (“Baleerie Baloo”, which is about the missionary Jane Haining) and the uncertainties of life (“Hole in the Heart”). But these stories of despair are balanced by others that describe the joy of a slower life (“Take Its Own Time”), of hope triumphing over cynicism (“Where the Smoke Blows”) and the wonder of the universe (“Terminal Star”).

As well as her solo work, Polwart spent much of 2006 collaborating with other artists on a variety of projects; Roddy Woomble, the lead singer of Idlewild, asked her to help co-write and provide backing vocals for his solo album, My Secret is My Silence.  Polwart also supported The Beautiful South on their tour and she guested with David Knopfler at The Globe Theatre for a charity benefit for Reprieve.

At the 2006, Hogmanay Live celebrations on BBC Scotland, Polwart played several of her songs and also dueted with Paolo Nutini. Toward the end of the year, she became one of the founder members of  musical collective The Burns Unit.

She took time off from live performance during 2007 as she was pregnant with her first child. During this time she recorded two albums: Fairest Floo’er comprising mostly traditional songs, and This Earthly Spell, containing only original compositions.

Polwart’s website announced in February 2010 that she intends to take a year’s “maternity leave” (Polwart’s daughter, Rosa, was born on 1 April 2010) but would perform with the Burns Unit in the summer. She also recorded an EP with Lau which was released through her website in July 2010.

Polwart released her fifth studio album, Traces, in August 2012, to a strongly positive critical response. It became her first official UK Top 75 entry, entering the albums chart at number 57.  Polwart releases music through her own Hegri Music imprint, named from the Gaelic word for heron. Polwart describes the heron as her favourite animal and her song “Follow the Heron”, which she has recorded both solo (on the Scribbled in Chalk album) and with Malinky (on the 3 Ravens album), has been much covered by artists including The McCalmans, Robert Lawrence and Cathie Ryan.

The only song I have is from her participation in Ballads of The Books, an album curated Roddy Woomble, and featuring collaborations between Scottish musicians and Scottish writers. The album is considered a joint effort by all those involved. It was released on Chemikal Underground in March 2007, and Karine’s collaboration was with Edwin Morgan (27 April 1920 – 17 August 2010), who was one of the foremost and left-leaning Scottish poets of the 20th century.

mp3 : Karine Polwart and Edwin Morgan – The Good Years

I mentioned earlier that I may be tempted to give the singer’s new album a listen. Here’s the promotional blurb:-

Award-winning songwriter and folk singer Karine Polwart reimagines a clutch of beloved songs that cut across fifty years of Scottish pop. Eighties classics from Deacon Blue, The Waterboys and Big Country sit alongside the stadium balladry of Biffy Clyro, while maverick legend Ivor Cutler rubs shoulders with the electro pop of Chvrches and the immaculate song craft of John Martyn.

Recorded at Chem 19, Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook features regular band mates Steven Polwart and Inge Thomson, with Graeme Smillie (bass and keys), Calum McIntyre (kit and percussion) and Louis Abbott of Admiral Fallow (vocals, guitar & percussion).

Karine says, “To me, these are songs of resilience and resistance, cries of despair and dreams of something better. They’re pop songs, but also love songs to people and places we all recognise. They totally fill my heart up”.

Tracklisting:

The Whole Of The Moon (Waterboys)
From Rags To Riches (Blue Nile)
Dignity (Deacon Blue)
Since Yesterday (Strawberry Switchblade)
Swim Until You Can’t See Land (Frightened Rabbit)
Chance (Big Country)
The Mother We Share (Chvrches)
Don’t Want To Know (John Martyn)
Whatever’s Written In Your Heart (Gerry Rafferty)
Machines (Biffy Clyro)
Women Of The World (Ivor Cutler)

Ballads of the Book was produced at Chem19 studios by Paul Savage and Andy Miller.

There was a very positive review in the Guardian newspaper which adds to the intrigue:-

The C90 cassette unspooling on the sleeve makes an apt motif for an album that is both a tribute to Scottish pop and a personal testimony from Caledonia’s reigning folk queen. Not that there’s much folk involved; most of the songs Karine Polwart interprets here are from the mainstream, drawn from a live show in turn inspired by an Edinburgh exhibition, Rip It Up, celebrating Scotland’s distinctive contribution to British pop. Big Country’s Chance, for example, was an air-punching anthem for a teenage Polwart in smalltown Stirlingshire, though it’s here transformed into a meditation on domestic abuse and an abandoned young mother.

Polwart works similar reconstructions on the likes of Deacon Blue, the Blue Nile and John Martyn. Strawberry Switchblade’s Since Yesterday morphs from bubblegum romance into a commentary on Alzheimer’s – “I’m scared I’ll have to say/ That a part of you is gone since yesterday” – while the Waterboys’ rocking The Whole of the Moon gets a minimalist treatment, with deft backings of glockenspiel and clarinet from a fine band. Whatever the song, Polwart’s vocals, austere rather than exuberant, tease out underlying themes of resilience and resistance to make a compendium of small-p political pop.

Here’s a video for one of the tracks:-

 

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #221 : ICEAGE

A GUEST POSTING by SWC*

(*welcome back mate, hope this is the first of many – JC)

Iceage are brilliant. Probably one of the most exciting and refreshing bands in the world right now. They have released four albums of breathtaking post punk pop gothic. Albums all wrapped up around the voice of their ridiculously attractive singer, Elias Bender Ronnenfelt (and there should be a line through that ‘o’ but I can’t find the right key on the keyboard, I hope that not offensive to any Danes that might be reading). Their first two albums sound like the best bits of Joy Division shovelled into a blender with the best bits of Fugazi and ‘Sister’ era Sonic Youth and they are both bleeding masterpieces. If you don’t own them you should rectify that situation as soon as possible.

Their third and fourth albums are slightly different, they sound more like Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds if Nick Cave had started to think he was Mark E Smith and the Bad Seeds came from Kansas. Again, they are both, the fourth one particularly, bleeding masterpieces and if you don’t own them, you should rectify that situation as soon as possible.

But.

There is always a ‘but’, isn’t there.

It very nearly went very wrong indeed for Iceage. Let’s have some swirly smoke and I’ll do an Al from Quantum Leap style jump and give you the backstory….

Iceage were formed in 2008, in Copenhagen, and comprised four teenagers raised on a diet of, Black Flag, Dead Kennedy, Crass and a liking for highbrow references about art, French Philosophers and Nietzsche. In 2011 their debut album ‘New Brigade’ came out and before long the press were drawling and drooling all over them (12 songs 28 minutes…It really is outstanding). They were widely touted as being the greatest thing to hit the post punk pop gothic world since Joy Division (if Joy Division looked like The Strokes that is).

Their live shows had already started to gain legendary status, tales of shambolically brilliant performances, where instruments were trashed, tunes and singing ignored, and band members were so wasted that they could barely stand, emerged. Yet that still didn’t burst their bubble. Iceage quickly grew from being called ‘the new Joy Division’ to being called ‘the greatest rock and roll band in the world’. The band were still in their late teens at this stage.

Fans openly drooled with anticipation at the prospect of a second album. But here is where it almost went wrong.

Around the time that second album it was being recorded some concerning allegations of the band having far right leanings emerged over the internet. Early interviews (in Danish) emerged where the band name dropped German fascist bands, alongside drawings penned by (a teenage) Ronnenfelt of the Ku Klux Klan and shaky grainy video footage of (audience members) sieg heiling at their early shows. It looked like perhaps that Iceage were not everything that we expected.

I mean it’s worrying and we have all abandoned bands for way less….rightly as well. In the last year I have abandoned in order The Orwells (sexual assault allegations), Hookworms (ditto), Ryan Adams (ditto), countless rappers (homophobia and general arsetrumpetry) and that’s even before we start on that Farage wannabe from Salford whose name I can’t even type.

Anway back to Iceage, who you have probably guessed I haven’t abandoned.

A short while after the allegations surfaced, Iceage released their second album (to glowing reviews and widespread praise) and left their native Denmark to embark on a massive tour. In the UK the band took the time addressed these concerns. They said that they were dumb kids (“we were genuine morons, truly unaware of the larger implications…” they said in one interview) and looked devastated by the whole thing. (this 2013 interview in The Guardian is wonderfully insightful)

What we found out later that is that Iceage are vocally pro-immigration, vocally anti-fascist and are very much a left leaning band. Something which definitely comes across in their second album (take ‘Morals’ for instance – side two track one below) and their third and fourth for that matter.

Was that enough, well perhaps, like I said we’ve all abandoned bands for way less. We’ve also forgiven bands for way worse (Bowie, sieg heiling for instance….). I for one am willing to overlook the idiocy of kids because when you drill into their music, it’s passionate, it’s angry, it’s about dejection and the pain of that post adolescent life (and not ,you know, about ethnic cleansing and that). I’m also prepared to overlook it because the links were laughably tenuous to say the least.

I’m going to shut up now, and let the music take over. I’ll end how I started. Iceage are brilliant. Probably one of the most exciting and refreshing bands in the world right now.

Side One

Hurrah – from Beyondless (2018)

‘Hurrah’ opens the bands most recent record ‘Beyondless’ an album which pushes the band further away from the early punk days. I mean this contains handclaps. Handclaps. On an Iceage record. When you get that you know anything that follows will be brilliant

Cimmerian Shade – from Plowing Into the Field of Love (2014)

‘Plowing Into the Field of Love’ is the bands third album and it sees them in one breathless album explore new territory which is perhaps best defined as ‘relaxed’. There is a more steady sound to it. . On ‘Cimmerian Shade’ you get a good example of Elias’s Nick Cave impression. But you also get a chugging, desperate sounding bass, interspersed with grunts or more likely growls from Ronnenfelt and then the drums kick in and pound away while guitars scratch away monstrously.

Showtime – From Beyondless (2018)

Imagine if you like you have wandered into a part of city that you don’t know very well. Inside a building you hear some brass band playing, intrigued you take a look. When you get inside you just see a mad circus on a stage playing out some devilish show involving a brass band and a man terrorizing the audience. That, folks, is what ‘Showtime’ sounds like. Its madness but its genius.

Pain Killer (featuring Sky Ferreira) – From Beyondless (2018)

‘Pain Killer’ is extraordinary, the musical equivalent of a bathbomb that when it fizzes and dissolves you find your bath full of spikes. A song that sounds all cosy and comfy but when you explore you discover that it is all about spider webs, death and all that. It comes armed as well with a classic hook and a chorus that tells that they “Rue the day you became my pain killer”. It is as close as the bad will ever come to sounding like ‘XTMNTR’ era Primal Scream.

You’re Nothing – From ‘You’re Nothing’ (2013)

The title track from the second album closes this particular side of the ICA. ‘You’re Nothing’ is as raw and as uncompromising a track as you can imagine. It sees a band that at the time had taken a load of anxieties and turned them into energy and the result was staggering.

(Interlude)

Side Two

Morals – From ‘You’re Nothing’ (2013)

‘Morals’ was I think the track that hinted at a softer more soulful side to Iceage. Here for the first time the band use a piano, albeit a sort of juddery kind of piano that has been attacked with an axe. We also hear Elias actually croon for the first time. Ok, he’s mocking us, but in a croony kind of way.

Broken Bone – From New Brigade (2011)

This is for some reason the only track from the debut album that made it on this album, there is no reason for that ‘New Brigade’ is as I have said a masterpiece in so many ways. ‘Broken Bone’ is probably the most accessible moment of it. It’s almost a pop song in the same way that anything by say Idles is almost a pop record.

Forever – From Plowing Into The Field of Love (2014)

When Iceage returned in 2014 this was the first track that most people heard. It took two or three listens to actually realise it was Iceage. This is largely because of the reverb heavy intro makes it sounds like Queens of the Stone Age rather than gloomy Joy Division obsessed goths from the back streets of Copenhagen. But it’s also because of the outro, which has this incredible horn bursting in from literally nowhere as Ronnenfelt wails about ‘Losing himself forever’. Stunning.

Coalition – From You’re Nothing (2012)

When ‘Coalition’ was released Iceage said that it was as close as the band would ever get to writing a straight up love song. Which is kind of what it is. A confused and bleak love song that talks about feeling ‘numb and faded’. It is still ace though.

The Lord’s Favorite – from Plowing Into the Field of Love (2014)

The stand out track of Plowing Into the Field Love is ‘The Lords Favorite’ and until ‘Showtime’ arrived this was my favo(u)rite Iceage track. It has this strange honky tonk style posturing feel about it.  The thing I love about it is that it is playful, cheeky and sounds like the band no longer has a single care in the world.

SWC

SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 24)

A GUEST POSTING by FlimFlanFan

Jeannie C. Riley (Jeanne Carolyn Stephenson)

Harper Valley P.T.A.

1968

Maybe this post is a little obvious for this series, perhaps even a little lazy? It seems such an obvious contender. I hope you’ll enjoy the lyrics, the twee name of the record label and the very ‘country’ name of one of the record label owners.

Signed initially to Little Darlin Records, co-owned by Johnny Paycheck and Aubrey Mayhew, Riley released the LP Sock Soul in 1968 – it didn’t chart in the US. In the same year she released a single and LP both titled Harper Valley P.T.A. on Plantation Records. The song was originally recorded by Margie Singleton, also in 1968.

Written by Tom T. Hall who was nicknamed “The Storyteller”, which is apt given he wrote many other songs and 9 books, Riley’s version of the song sold over six million copies as a single. It made Riley the first woman to top both the Billboard Hot 100 and the U.S. Hot Country Singles charts with the same song, a feat that would go un-repeated until Dolly Parton‘s “9 to 5” in 1981.

Hall has since said “ The story is a true story. I didn’t make the story up; I chose the story to make a statement, but I changed the names to protect the innocent. … I was about nine years old and heard the story and got to know this lady. I was fascinated by her grit. To see this very insignificant, socially disenfranchised lady – a single mother – who was willing to march down to the local aristocracy read them the riot act, so to speak, was fascinating. I wrote the song 30 years later; that song was my novel.”

On hearing this song some years after it’s release, I was taken by this strong woman Mrs Johnson, who wouldn’t take shite from anyone and had the keenest, highly-justifiable, observational put-downs. There was always a giggle to be found at the line “And if you smell Shirley Thompson’s breath You’ll find she’s had a little nip of gin”. My sister-in-law was called Shirley Thomson. Cue giggles.

I wanna tell you all the story ’bout
A Harper Valley widowed wife
Who had a teenage daughter
Who attended Harper Valley Junior High
Well her daughter came home one afternoon
And didn’t even stop to play
And she said mom, I got a note here from the Harper Valley PTA

Well the note said Mrs. Johnson
You’re wearin’ your dresses way too high
It’s reported you’ve been drinking
And a-running round with men and goin’ wild
And we don’t believe you oughta be a-bringin’ up
Your little girl this way
And it was signed by the Secretary
Harper Valley PTA

Well, it happened that the PTA was gonna meet
That very afternoon
And they were sure surprised
When Mrs. Johnson wore her miniskirt into the room
And as she walked up to the blackboard
I can still recall the words she had to say
She said I’d like to address this meeting of the Harper Valley PTA

Well there’s Bobby Taylor sittin’ there
And seven times he asked me for a date
And Mrs. Taylor sure seems to use a lotta ice
Whenever he’s away
And Mr. Baker can you tell us why
Your secretary had to leave this town?
And shouldn’t widow Jones be told to keep
Her window shades all pulled completely down

Well, Mr Harper couldn’t be here
‘Cause he stayed too long at Kelly’s Bar again
And if you smell Shirley Thompson’s breath
You’ll find she’s had a little nip of gin
And then you have the nerve to tell me
You think that as a mother I’m not fit
Well this is just a little Peyton Place
And you’re all Harper Valley hypocrites

No, I wouldn’t put you on because it really did
It happened just this way
The day my mama socked it to the Harper Valley PTA
The day my mama socked it to the Harper Valley PTA

Riley recorded a sequel, “Return to Harper Valley” (in 1984, also written by Hall) but it was not a commercial success.

mp3 : Jeannie C. Riley – Harper Valley P.T.A.

Here’s the original take on it:-

mp3 : Margie Singleton – Harper Valley P.T.A.

And, for completeness, the 1984 sequel:-

mp3 : Jeannie C. Riley – Return to Harper Valley

FlimFlanFan

 

I’M BEGGING OF YOU PLEASE……

Earlier this year, as part of my present to my mum to celebrate her turning 80 years of age, I took her to London to see ‘9 to 5 – The Musical’, a show based on the film of the same name and for which Dolly Parton had written a number of new songs. My mum thoroughly enjoyed the show, and it would be disingenuous if I tried to claim that I didn’t also have a good time.

It got me thinking as to when I first became aware of Dolly Parton and that would have been back in 1976 when Jolene, arguably probably her best-known song, reached the Top 10 in the UK singles charts. Quite incredibly, that’s the only time she has ever cracked the singles charts in the UK as a solo artist – her only other big hit was Islands In The Stream, a duet with Kenny Rogers (and a cover of a Bee Gees number) that reached #7.

I was sure that 9 to 5 must have been a huge hit, but it turns out that it stalled at #47 back in 1981 and hasn’t ever been given a further physical release since, albeit it has enjoyed more than 840,000 downloads since these things started being counted and has been streamed more than 8 million times, an indication of just how popular it has become over the past almost 40 years.

But today’s posting isn’t really about Ms Parton, and instead is an excuse to offer up a few cover versions of her only ever solo hit single.

Strawberry Switchblade, in 1985, released it as the follow-up to their hit single Since Yesterday:-

mp3 : Strawberry Switchblade – Jolene

Sadly, it, and the parent album released around the same time, didn’t do much in terms of sales and the duo went their separate ways shortly after.

Another very fine Scottish singer, Dot Allison, persuaded her band to have a go at it and it found its way onto the b-side of their final single before they broke up:-

mp3 : One Dove – Jolene

Is there something about this songs that it has a crazy ability to bring about the end of a band once they’ve had a stab at it?

Not quite, in that this next take on it dates from a BBC Radio 1 session in 1983 and the band kept going for almost another 20 years:-

mp3 : The Sisters of Mercy – Jolene (Kid Jensen Session)

And finally, the version which resulted in the song making an appearance in the UK charts in 2004:-

mp3 : The White Stripes – Jolene (Live Under Blackpool Lights)

The live single was issued to accompany a live DVD, recorded at the beginning of 2004, but held back and released in time for that year’s Xmas market.

The White Stripes had previously, in 2000, recorded a studio version of the song, making it available as the b-side to Hello Operator, an early single that was never given a release in the UK.

mp3 : The White Stripes – Jolene

There are numerous other cover versions out there but these are all I can offer up from my own vaults.

JC

ANOTHER SIMPLY THRILLING NIGHT OF MUSIC, DANCING AND SINGING

Last Friday, 16 August 2019, it absolutely pissed down from the heavens in Glasgow for what seemed like the 20th day in a row. It wouldn’t normally be anything that bothered or concerned me being another day to confirm the modern-era summers round these parts where we are experience a bit more heat, accompanied by bursts of very heavy and thundery showers, especially in August.

The down side on this occasion was that it coincided with the first Scottish gig, in 27 years(!!) by The Cure, with the venue being a park on the south side of the city, just a few hundred yards from my front door. The venue was bound to be a quagmire, and boots/sturdy footwear would be essential for everyone going along, as too would sensible clothing/jackets to combat the heavy rain.

The real down side was that the Simply Thrilled team, having at short notice requiring to cancel our planned event for July, re-scheduled things for 16 August, shifting the timings to 11pm – 3am so that anyone going to The Cure, with support from Mogwai and The Twilight Sad, could make it along afterwards. My great fear was that we would have next to nobody there, despite selling more than 150 tickets in advance, as folk would just go home to dry out or feel they weren’t dressed well enough to come into the city centre for a bit of dancing.

How wrong could I be? Loads came along, a fair number of whom couldn’t care less how they looked after spending hours in the open air. Quite a few dropped in without having been to the gig on the basis that we have earned a reputation for putting on a good night and there were also a good number of walk-ups on the night which meant we got reasonably close to capacity.

I did my usual stint, with great help and support from Carlo, of playing the opening set of the night – normally when we’ve done our few hours with an 8pm start, it’s just getting warmed up with folk getting onto the dance floor in dribs and drabs just in time for Robert and Hugh to cast their magic spells.

This time round, with the later start, there was a desire among the crowd to get things going more quickly, persumably as not everyone has the ability to last till 3am, especially if you’ve been out all day. As a result, we got the best reaction we’ve ever had and it meant when we exited the booth, our mates took over what was already a hot, excited and happy crowd for whom they cranked it up, turning it into party central, taking and playing all sorts of requests, veering away occasionally from the Scottish stuff, before finishing things off at the end of the night with a few numbers that got everyone emotional. Here’s the full playlist:-

1. There’s A Girl In The Corner – Robert Smith
2. VTr – The Twilight Sad
3. Sweat In Bullet – Simple Minds
4. The Kindest Heart – The Affectionate Punch
5. All The Records On The Radio Are Shite – Ballboy
6. Be Less Rude – Frightened Rabbit
7. Doing The Unstuck – The Cure
8. Wonderful Lie – The Hardy Boys
9. Surfin’ USA – The Jesus And Mary Chain
10. Fast Blood – Frightened Rabbit
11. His Latest Flame – The Motorcycle Boy
12. Queer – Garbage
13. The One I Loathe The Least – The Just Joans
14. Star Sign – Teenage Fanclub
15. Why Can’t I Be You – The Cure
16. So Good To Be Back Home – The Tourists
17. The Rattler – Goodbye Mr Mackenzie
18. Mary’s Prayer – Danny Wilson
19. Love’s Glory – Fruits Of Passion
20. Breaking Point – Bourgie Bourgie
21. Lost Weekend – Lloyd Cole And The Commotions
22. Inbetween Days – The Cure
23. Hot Hot Hot!!! – The Cure
24. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) – Eurythmics
25. Last January – The Twilight Sad
26. The Honeythief – Hipsway
27. I Travel – Simple Minds
28. Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand
29. Friday I’m In Love – The Cure
30. Oblivious – Aztec Camera
31. Don’t Talk To Me About Love – Altered Images
32. Maggie May – Rod Stewart
33. You’ve Got The Power – Win
34. I’m Not Here – The Twilight Sad
35. Just Like Heaven – Dinosaur Jr.
36. Fast Blood – Frightened Rabbit
37. Live In A Hiding Place – Idlewild
38. Small Town Boy – Bronski Beat
39. The Mother We Share – Chvrches
40. Close To Me – The Cure
41. Enola Gay – OMD
42. A Little Respect – Erasure
43. Don’t Leave Me This Way – The Communards
44. Somewhere In My Heart – Aztec Camera
45. I’m A Cuckoo – Belle And Sebastian
46. Rip It Up – Orange Juice
47. [10 Good Reasons For Modern Drugs] – The Twilight Sad
48. Hit The North – The Fall
49. The Drowners – Suede
50. Don’t Go – Yazoo
51. You Spin Me ‘Round – Dead Or Alive
52. Diamond Dogs – David Bowie
53. Atomic – Blondie
54. Groove Is In The Heart – Deelite
55. Testify – Hifi Sean
56. Movin’ On Up – Primal Scream
57. I’m Free – The Soup Dragons
58. Shoreline – Broder Daniel
59. The Modern Leper – Frightened Rabbit
60. The Shy Retirer – Arab Strap
61. Higher Than The Sun – Primal Scream
62. Atmosphere – Joy Division
63. And She Would Darken The Memory – The Twilight Sad
64. Keep Yourself Warm – Frightened Rabbit
65. Plainsong – The Cure (Exit Music)

I know I say this after each of these nights, but this was the best one yet. Yes, I’ve had a great buzz at previous nights standing alongside guest DJs such as Aidan Moffat, Stuart Braithwaite and James Graham, but the crowd last Friday night really made it an incredibly special and memorable night.

Hopefully, it won’t be too long till the next one.

Here’s my just under two hours of stuff (tracks 1-33 from above)

Various – Simply Thrilled (August 2019)

JC

RECALLING THE HEART THROBS (AN ICA IN ALL BUT NAME!!)

The Heart Throbs are one of those indie-bands from the late 80s/early 90s who don’t seem to generate too much in the way of nostalgic musings across t’internet. They were too late (and too professional) for the C86 movement and its aftermath and they didn’t move their sound on in any great way to be lumped in with the sort of music associated with baggy/Madchester. There was also, perhaps, something of a suspicion of nepotism getting the band to places where others hadn’t been able to reach on the grounds that two members of The Heart Throbs were sisters of Bunnymen drummer, Pete de Freitas. If so, that’s quite unfair as while I don’t actually have all that much in the collection other than a few dribs’n’drabs via singles on compilation CDs, much of it is very listenable.

The band came together in 1986 when college friends Rose Carlotti (who was born Rosemarie DeFreitas) and Stephen Ward, decided to turn a concept into reality by asking Rachael de Freitas and Mark Side to form a band. Rose would play guitar and sing, Rachel would play bass and sing backing vocals, Stephen would play guitar and the 17-year old Mark would drum.

One thing to note is that the credits for the songs, certainly in the early days, were attributed either collectively to the four members of the band or to ‘Carlotti/Ward/Carlotti/Side’, indicating that Rose and Rachael didn’t really want to trade on the family name (worth remembering also that a fourth sibling, Frank de Freitas, was bassist with The Woodentops, another up and coming indie band of the era).

The first single was released in 1987 on In-Tape, a label that had been started up a few years previously by Marc Riley when he took his leave of The Fall:-

mp3 : The Heart Throbs – Toy

The band also toured with Jesus and Mary Chain, generating enough of a buzz to be offered a deal by Rough Trade for whom there were two singles in 1988, both of which were minor hits in the indie charts:-

mp3 : The Heart Throbs – Bang
mp3 : The Heart Throbs – Too Many Shadows

The band showed a sense of humour and irony with their next step, which was to form their own label which they named Profumo, after the six scandal that had rocked British politics in the 60s. One of the protagonists in the Profumo scandal was Stephen Ward…which was of course also the name of the guitarist and founding member of The Heart Throbs. There were just the two singles on Profumo:-

mp3 : The Heart Throbs – Here I Hide
mp3 : The Heart Throbs – Blood From A Stone

By now, the band had added a further guitarist, Alan Borgia, to flesh out their sound both in the studio and on stage. There was always a sense that they were on the verge of making a breakthrough, certainly from a fair amount of positive media coverage and they inked a fairly lucrative deal with One Little Indian in the UK and with Elektra in the USA, with the latter firmly believing they had a band who could, just as R.E.M. had done, find mainstream success in due course via the college-radio route.

A more than decent debut LP, Cleopatra Grip, was released on both sides of the Atlantic in 1990. It contained two absolutely superb singles, which; looking back probably was the pinnacle of the band’s output:-

mp3 : The Heart Throbs – Dreamtime
mp3 : The Heart Throbs – I Wonder Why

The singles and album didn’t cross over into the mainstream, and underlying tensions within the band began to come to the fore, resulting in Rachael and Mark quitting the band in early 1991. Their replacements were experienced musicians in the shape of Noko (ex-Luxuria) on bass and Steve Monti (ex-Blockheads) on drums, with the new-look band’s first release being the Total Abandon EP of which this was the lead track:-

mp3 : The Heart Throbs – Turn Away

The next blow came when Elektra opted out of things but A&M stepped in for the American side of things and the band went into the studio to start work on the sophomore album, Jubilee Twist, from these two tracks also formed the two sides of a 7” single:-

mp3 : The Heart Throbs – Hooligan
mp3 : The Heart Throbs – So Far

The sales of the new material were poor and the band had lost all sense of momentum and direction. The rhythm section paid the price and left, being replaced in 1993 by Colleen Browne on bass and Steve Beswick on drums. This line-up would record a third album, the largely ignored Vertical Smile for which One Little Indian did little in the way of promotion bar one EP of which this was the lead track:-

mp3 : The Heart Throbs – Worser

The band called it a day soon after the album hit the shops, lamenting that they had always been contenders but never the champions.

So there you have it….the condensed story of The Heart Throbs over the six years they were in existence, during which they released three albums with three different rhythm sections. There’s 11 songs offered up for your listening pleasure and I’ll be disappointed if you can’t find at least one to tickle your fancy. As I said, it’s really an ICA in disguise.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF (EARLY) SIMPLE MINDS (Part 13)

The success of New Gold Dream led to Simple Minds being put on the bill of a number of outdoor festivals in mainland Europe in June/July 1983 after which the band returned to the studio to begin work on a new album. They did come out of hibernation on 14 August to appear as special guests of U2 at a massive event in Phoenix Park, Dublin at which they opened with a new song, one that signified yet another shift in sound.

They returned to the studio and, in typical style, quickly finished off work on the new album under the watchful eye and helping hand of producer Steve Lillywhite.

Virgin Records took the decision to delay the release of the new album, partly on the basis of New Gold Dream still selling in reasonable numbers and also the fact that they now wanted Simple Minds to be a band that had a worldwide release for new material rather than it being issued firstly in the UK.

But, as had been the case with the earlier LPs recorded for Virgin, there was an advanced release of a 45 (see the previous features on The American and Promised You A Miracle).

mp3 : Simple Minds – Waterfront

This was Simple Minds as never heard before. Big, bombastic, anthemic and tailor-made for radio, thanks in part to the one-note bassline that dominates in so many places.

I can honestly say that Glasgow went nuts for this song. The band had always been proud to say it was their home city, arguing in interviews that it suffered from an ill-deserved reputation in terms of grime, poverty and violence. They were proud of its and their own working-class roots and firmly believed the city was about to undergo something of a renaissance. The video for the new single was made in Glasgow, with many evocative outdoor scenes intermingling with live footage that had been shot at the Barrowlands Ballroom, a rundown and derelict venue in the east end of the city in front of an audience that had applied for tickets via a local radio station.

It really is no exaggeration to say that Simple Minds single-handedly saved the live music scene in Glasgow. The only realistic venue for touring bands, The Apollo, had closed down and was scheduled for demolition. The alterative would be the soon-to-be-completed Exhibition Centre with its cavernous shed holding 10,000, but that wouldn’t have been suitable for most bands who were looking for a capacity of 2-3,000. The Barrowlands had been a dance hall of reputation in the 60s and early 70s but had long been neglected as folk flocked to the new discotheques. There had been talk of it perhaps becoming a replacement for the Apollo but nothing was happening until Simple Minds, on 27 November 1983, got its doors re-opened for a gig (with limited capacity) that would be filmed as part of promotional videos for upcoming singles.

One month later, with more work done in terms of health and safety, Simple Minds returned to the Barrowlands for three pre-Xmas gigs, all of which could have sold out ten times over. By this time Waterfront had been a #13 hit in the UK charts, it would have sat at #1 in Scotland for months if there had been a separate chart. Worth noting too that all three of these gigs opened with Waterfront and that the song was also used to round off the final encore.

I’ve never been a lover of Waterfront but, at the same time, I am full of admiration and gratitude for what it did in terms of making Glasgow such an important location in terms of live music, one that has been built on to great effect over the past 35 years.

The b-side was a live version of a song on New Gold Dream, taken from a show at Newcastle City Hall back in November 1982:-

mp3 : Simple Minds – Hunter And The Hunted (live)

There was a palpable contrast in songs that were just a year apart in terms of them being recorded and it was going to be interesting to see what direction the new record would take. Given that Steve Lillywhite’s reputation had been forged with guitar-based music, it was a good bet that Simple Minds would be moving away from the sounds of the Arista years……

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #173 : THE KARELIA

From wiki:-

The Karelia were a Scottish band formed by current Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos, known at the time as Alex Huntley, in 1996. The four original members were Alex Huntley (vocals, guitar, bouzouki and banjolele),Glen Thompson (bass guitar and percussion), Alan Wylie (trumpet) and Thom Falls (drums) – Falls was later replaced by Greek drummer Tassos Bobos.

Their sound has been described as “prog/techno rock with Iggy-voxed overtones”, and “jazzy film-noir lo-fi”. The band’s only album, Divorce At High Noon, was released in 1997 on Sum Records to little acclaim. Produced by Bid of The Monochrome Set, it was an off the wall mix of rock and jazz trumpet with unusual lyrics. The final song, “Garavurghty Butes”, was completely freestyle with improvised lyrics and musical arrangement. The band did not tour and were unknown outside Glasgow. Very few copies of the album sold and the band split in 1998 after contributing to an EP for the Guided Missile label.

Upon the huge success of Franz Ferdinand fans began to exchange originals of Divorce at High Noon for £50-£100. Because of this, the album was re-released in February 2005. It featured all of the previous album and two bonus tracks.

What it didn’t feature was a song The Karelia contributed to The Glasgow EP, four tracks that also featured Mogwai, El Hombre Trajeado and The Yummy Fur, released in 2000 by Plastic Cowboy Records.

mp3 : The Karelia – New Year In New York

The Glasgow EP was one of a collectible series released by the label, with the other cities being London, Liverpool, Oxford and Tokyo, with another devoted to Essex.

JC